There are perhaps few things more annoying than Americans who travel to another country, one assumes to experience another culture, and expect the people of that place to accommodate their American mores. And, when I’m in Ireland, I do my best to assimilate. Well….with one exception. Coffee.
Some who have traveled with me say that I’m really leading coffee shop tours of Ireland with megaliths on the side. True. Over the years I have come to know most of the coffee shops in the areas we visit. I know which ones pull their own shots and which use those push button machines.
In my journey with cancer I’ve given up a lot of my favorite foods. But not breve lattes. And Ireland doesn’t list breve’s on their menu boards. In fact they don’t have half-and-half as we know it. They have full cream, what they call pouring cream. So my frequent order is a latte made with pouring cream. This generally causes both confused looks and a spontaneous meeting among the coffee shop staff. But most are willing to give it a go. It was in in a small coffee shop in Ballydehob in the southwest of Ireland where one young man had just made a brilliant breve. He watched me as I took a sip and smiled. “Ah, now I might like to try that myself,” he said. I handed him back my cup. He took a sip and his eyebrows raised. “That’s really lovely,” he said. “I will definitely be making more of those.”
As I pay for the coffee there is always the conversation about how they should really charge me more. “Now why would we be doing that?” one woman asked. “Because pouring cream is more expensive,” I replied. “Ah, but sure you’re in Ireland,” she responded, “so we won’t be bothered about that.”
Yes. I am in Ireland. And some days I’m playing the part of the ugly American-O.
Judith – firstname.lastname@example.org